On January 8th, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven Venezuelan citizens, including the owner of the major news network Globovision.
The Venezuelans are close to President Nicolas Maduro, who is to assume office in several days. The Treasury Department claimed that media magnate Raul Gorrin is the alleged ringleader of a graft network that stole $2.4 billion from state coffers through corrupt currency sales.
“Venezuelan regime insiders have plundered billions of dollars from Venezuela while the Venezuelan people suffer. Treasury is targeting this currency exchange network which was another illicit scheme that the Venezuelan regime had long used to steal from its people,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “Our actions against this corrupt currency exchange network expose yet another deplorable practice that Venezuela regime insiders have used to benefit themselves at the expense of the Venezuelan people. The United States remains committed to holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline, and will continue to use diplomatic and economic tools to support the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy,” the announcement read.
Following are the individuals that were sanctioned and the formal reasoning behind the sanctions:
- Raul Gorrin Belisario was indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida in August 2018 for conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and for conspiring to bribe Venezuelan officials and commit money laundering by hiding embezzled government funds, totaling more than $1 billion, in Florida and New York.
- Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen is the former head of the ONT, serving as the National Treasurer between 2011 and 2013. In her role as the National Treasurer, Diaz accepted bribes from Gorrin directly, as well as through her husband, Adrian Jose Velasquez Figueroa (Velasquez), in return for permitting Gorrin to be the one of the select casas de bolsa for the Government of Venezuela.
- Adrian Jose Velasquez Figueroa received bribes from Gorrin on behalf of his wife, Diaz, as part of the scheme to ensure Gorrin’s selection as one of the casas de bolsa for the Government of Venezuela.
- Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan was a front person, or testaferro, for Venezuelan senior Chavista military and political figures including Andrade, in his role as the National Treasurer and after, where he supported Andrade in money scams involving the Venezuelan financial sector, to include Gonzalez’ role in the corrupt scheme involving the ONT exchange business.
- Gustavo Adolfo Perdomo Rosales is the brother-in-law and a business partner of Gorrin. As Gorrin’s business partner, Perdomo — on Gorrin’s instruction — made wire transfers and held property on behalf of Andrade.
- Maria Alexandra Perdomo Rosales is the wife of Gorrin, and owns or controls, along with Gorrin, several of the companies used to hold property in the United States.
- Mayela Antonina Tarascio-Perez is the wife of Perdomo, and owns or controls, along with Perdomo, a company used to hold property in the United States.
AP reported that the actions against Gorrin come as international pressure is building on Maduro, who is preparing to be sworn in on January 10th for a second, six-year term considered illegitimate by the U.S. and more than a dozen regional governments.
Maduro’s opponents have urged stronger action from the Trump administration, such as a ban on oil purchases from the OPEC nation or designating the Maduro government a state sponsor of terrorism.
“The arbitrary measures taken against individuals really don’t worry us,” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of dozens of high-ranking Venezuelan officials previously sanctioned by the U.S., said at a press conference.
Under a special exemption being granted and its Miami-based affiliate, the network will be allowed to carry out some otherwise prohibited transactions for up to a year. Permanent sanctions relief will only come once Gorrin and Perdomo divest their holdings and give up control of the channel.